4 min read
Day Two at the Australian Open saw the completion of the first round with the bottom halves of the draws taking the court. More upsets took place, and some second-round matches will be a competitive delight if Universal Tennis INSIGHTS has any say in the matter.
Let's catch up on what you may have missed, and look ahead to some key second-round clashes.
Murray Makes Winning Return
On Tuesday, Andy Murray (UTR Rating 15.44) did what he does best to get past No. 21 Nikoloz Basilashvili (15.46) for his first win at the Australian Open since 2017. He battled for five physically grueling sets before prevailing 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4.
“It is amazing
Murray had just beaten Basilashvilli on his way to the Sydney final less than two weeks ago. The Scot is favored heavily in his next round against qualifier Taro Daniel (14.91) with 77% odds of advancing. Looking closer at their INSIGHTS head-to-head comparison, Murray has the better UTR Ratings (three-month trending, hard court, and overall) and slightly better record versus common opponents. Experience-wise, the three-time Grand Slam champion and five-time Australian Open finalist has a significant leg up against the 28-year-old Daniel, who is appearing in the second round of a Grand Slam for the fifth time ever.
INSIGHTS Predicts Next Men's Matches to Watch
One of the most exciting second-round men's matches coming up will pit Taylor Fritz (15.50), the No. 20 seed, against compatriot Frances Tiafoe (15.47). The two Americans are fairly evenly matched, per INSIGHTS, with Fritz having the advantage at 54%. They haven't played against each other since 2019, and while Fritz has the higher UTR Rating, Tiafoe has won a lot of matches over the past 15 months (51-32), highlighted by his run to the Vienna ATP 500 final as a qualifier.
The 23-year-old was just a few spots shy of a seeding at the Australian Open, making him one of the most dangerous dark horses. He's been to the quarterfinals in Melbourne Park (in 2019) while Fritz has never gone beyond the third round of a Slam.
Fritz vs. Tiafoe is not the first all-American men's clash in Melbourne. Former UCLA Bruin Maxime Cressy (15.00) upset No. 22 seed, John Isner (15.41), in five sets across four long hours. While Isner is most famous for his big serve, Cressy held his own, racking up 31 aces to Isner's 39. Cressy, a 24-year-old American, has a huge opportunity to reach his first Grand Slam third round when he takes on qualifier Tomas Machac (14.88). INSIGHTS has Cressy with 56% odds of advancing past the 21-year-old newcomer.
INSIGHTS expects No. 24 seed Daniel Evans (15.33) to have his hands full with Adelaide finalist Arthur Rinderknech (15.29) with Evans holding a 54% advantage. Most telling is the fact that Rinderknech's three-month UTR Rating is higher than the Brit's at 15.38 to 15.35, reflecting the recent surge in his performance.
INSIGHTS Predicts Next Women's Matches to Watch
On the women's side, one of the biggest opportunities lies waiting for young American Hailey Baptiste (11.97). The 20-year-old qualifier is favored against Australian wild card Maddison Inglis (11.70) at 65%. Inglis ousted No. 23 seed Leylah Fernandez (12.77), while Kaia Kanepi (12.37) took out No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber (13.00), opening up their section of the draw for a new star. In terms of UTR Rating, Inglis' win is the biggest women's upset so far due to her -1.07 differential compared to Fernandez.
No. 3-seeded Garbine Muguruza (12.91) could be up for a battle with Alize Cornet (12.73). Cornet was one of the few unseeded players to have an INSIGHTS-predicted shot at making the semifinals, at 5%. Although that's a small percentage, it's noticeable when most players have less than 1% odds. Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion, is still favored to beat the experienced Frenchwoman but at only a 59% chance. Cornet has been to the fourth round of a Grand Slam four times and won a third-set tiebreak contest over the Spaniard in the quarterfinals of the WTA 500 in Berlin last June.
Earning honorable mention is 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu (12.72) after she overcame a challenging first round against 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens (12.52). The 19-year-old Brit battled through a lopsided match to advance, 6-0, 2-6, 6-1. It marks Raducanu's first victory since October and she'll try to make it two in a row against Montenegro's Danka Kovinic (11.83) where she's favored at 89%.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 a.m. EST, Jan. 18, 2022.